Thursday, September 23, 2010

Holy Livejournal, Batman!

I found out tonight that I could export my old LiveJournal account to a PDF file. Since I haven't updated that journal in over a year (and before that it had been about that long), I decided to set it all to private now that I want to keep some of my private life...well, private.


The evil that is LJ won't let me set all entries to private unless I fork over a paid membership. For a journal I don't use. WTF?

So I exported that bitch and now have it saved to my computer. And the account is hereby deleted. Woot!

Here's the awesomesauce part: when I looked at the first entry in the journal, it's from when I was in Bahrain and noticing how judgy I'd gotten. Score! I think I might start posting some of those old LJ posts here (only with the Filter du Semi-Anonymous Snark on it) when I have nothing better to talk about. If nothing else, it'll be a nice way to keep some of that stuff alive without having it hanging out in the evil recesses of LJ-dom.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kindergarten Art in a Mil-Family

Today, YodaMan volunteered at the sprogs' school and ended up lording over the table where the kids were supposed to do some art. They were asked to draw a picture of something their family does together.

My elder sprog, when he got to the table, drew a ship. YodaMan asked him why. His response:

Daddy goes on the ship. Mommy, brother, and I wait for the ship.

Welcome to the world of a mil-family. That about sums up our lives right there. And only a Kindergartner could do it that succinctly.

Needless to say, YodaMan has got his guilt on. I'm sure he might be pouting a little, too. But this is our life. We can hate it all day long, or we can snark the fuck out of it on a blog.

Me, I like a little of both. ;)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Monterey options for prescriptions through Tricare

When you come to Monterey and sit through the welcome session for spouses, and the dude in charge of the Presidio clinic extolls the virtues of using their pharmacy for all your pharmaceutical needs, stick your fingers in your ears and your head up your ass because you'll be MUCH better off in the long run.

When you come to Monterey, make sure you're set up with the Express Scripts whateverthefuckmajiggy or else getcher Safeway/CVS pharmacy on. Because trekking all the way through insane fucking hippie drivers to get onto the Presidio base (which is pretty cool, especially with all the deer sitting around going, "I don't know about all these motherfuckers in their cars, but this grass is the fuckin' bombnomnom.") is not worth it when you walk into the pharmacy and are told:
  • Your medication isn't in their formulary.
  • Your medication was in their formulary, but they've stopped carrying it even though it's one of those that might be especially important for soldiers with PTSD and has few side effects and is generally full of awesome. In fact, it's because it's full of awesome that they stopped carrying it. Here, have some M&Ms.
  • We're not going to contact your doctor even though we have this prescription from her in our pretty little hands. No, you drive all the way back to her office and pick up a brand-spanking new prescription, and we'll try this little evolution all over again. But if you want to know what alternatives for that medication are in our formulary, you're going to have to ask nicely.
  • We're closed today. In fact, I shouldn't be talking to you at all. I should be on my lunch break, after which we're totally like closed and stuff, like okay?
I've had all four of these in the three freaking months I've tried using the pharmacy for my prescription needs. I think I've mentioned here that I'm allergic to this fucking damp-ass city and am now on inhalers and blood pressure meds and all manner of weird shit I never used to need. I've been told my $180-copay inhaler? Not in the formulary. My med that they told me they carried two months ago? Not there anymore when I come in with a new prescription, but because I assumed it would still be there, I don't have time to wait for an Express Scripts shipment to get to me...I have to brave fucking Safeway.

And yesterday, I went in with my stupid fucking BP meds, ready for a refill. I'd meant to come on Wednesday, but I got waylaid, and as of yesterday, I was out. O-U-T on empty. Walked to the pharmacy and realized that there were some fairly panicked folks and the metal roller curtain things were down in two windows. I went to the drop off window, waiting to be told that they couldn't help me.

And that's precisely what I was told.

Them: We have training at 1. Bye bye now.
Me: It's noon.
Them: It's lunchtime. Bye bye now.
Me: *blink* For real?
Them: Srsly. It's how we roll, every third Thursday of the month. But we're open at 7am tomorrow. Come back then, meowkay?

So I left, and on my way out, a very perplexed-looking gentleman asked if they were sending me away, too. I responded with a yes and that I was screwed because I was out of my medication. When I got back to my car, I just stood there for a few minutes. Kinda like a lunatic, I suppose. Then I got really, really, really ridiculously pissed.

I wanted out. So I stormed back into the clinic and saw, even though signs were now visible that the entire fucking clinic closes at one and it was still only noon, that the check-in desk at the front was now roller curtained. I stood there for a few minutes, losing my steam, and that's when I ran into a dude who seemed to have some authority, and who assured me that the pharmacy was NOT closed.

So we both went there together, where now several of us were having issues that needed to be resolved. The gentleman I'd spoken to on my way out saw me, pointed, and declared that I desperately needed help. And that's when I said I just wanted my prescription released because I was tired of coming in here and being told that they couldn't help me. I didn't get that at the civilian pharmacy, and though I paid $3 (or more) for the pleasure, the convenience was well worth it.

Pharmacist dude informed me that I'd need to remember from now on that nobody manned the pharmacy on the third Thursday of the month and just to avoid coming in. I thought in my head that the next time I needed my scrip filled, I'd just head to Safeway and let them manage. I know they will. They like my money, and they don't think Tricare's sucks that bad, either.

So remember: if you choose to use the Presidio clinic, prepare for some good, old-fashioned military assfuckery. You'll get it, without a reach around, and you'll be told to like it. Just so you know....

Oh, and dude with authority? Was completely perplexed about the situation. I guess he's new and didn't realize the level of dickbaggery there. Maybe things will change, but I doubt it.

For my part, I'm done. I don't need them, and it's clear they don't need me. I'm just a drop in their funding bucket.

Monday, September 13, 2010

DADT Revisited

Today, I saw a link provided by the most awesomesauce Lily Burana to an article written by a gay soldier, now honorably discharged for the incredibly shocking crime of *gasp* loving men. How dare he.

I find this article incredible. In one page, Hopkins addresses all those many ridiculous suppositions made by the bigots who oppose the repeal of DADT and makes a few extra points that I hadn't considered.

These soldiers and sailors and airforcians and marines who serve in the closet are being ordered to act without integrity, which goes against the foundation of military service.

These soldiers and sailors and airforcians and marines who serve in the closet are, by law, unable to defend their honor against bigoted and cliched attacks.

These soldiers and sailors and airforcians and marines who serve in the closet are, by law, unable to defend the truth. And the truth is, these guys and gals are already serving. They're just doing it in secret. Unlike African Americans and women who were discriminated against in the past, they can hide in plain sight. And they're forced to do so if they feel a calling to serve.

How is this fair? How is this right? And how can anyone say, in the end, that one person's genetic disposition towards one type of sexual partner threatens unit cohesion when nobody is in the military to get laid. They're there to serve.

So let them, for fuck's sake.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Obligatory 9/11 Post

On September 11, 2002, I was in Bahrain. I had only been there a couple of weeks at that point, so I was living in a villa in Saar and floundering quite a bit, wondering what the hell I was going to do with myself for the next two-plus years and how I'd fill my days. We had a "gardener" for our two trees (aka dried husks) in an otherwise cement yard, but he was really there to make sure we crazy Americans were cleaning the toilets. That's right, our landlord hired a gardener to water stalks and clean our toilets. The guy would also do our dishes if I hadn't beat him to it and ask if we needed our car cleaned. For a dinar (about $2.54), he would wash the outside and make the inside look like it had been detailed. And he'd do it with a broom and a rag.

On September 11, about mid-day, broadcasts from New York were available on our satellite television, so I had our living room TV tuned into the 9/11 anniversary coverage. I'd escape upstairs to diddle our piece of shit Batelco modem (fucking French technology) since the internet was unstable...and also because I couldn't handle the incredible emotion I felt watching the commemoration.

I felt like a fraud, really. This had been an attack on our country, yes, but I had no personal ties to anyone who died that day. I didn't even know anyone who'd lost someone. I didn't feel I had the right to mourn our lost citizens quite so dramatically. So I kept running upstairs, where I could hear the words but not feel completely crushed by other people's losses.

Ibrahim, our Bangalore gardener, came in during all this, fully prepared to swish the potties and scrub my dishes. I'd already scrubbed the dishes, though, because I hated that he felt compelled to do that work for me. Also, that morning, I needed the distraction.

I couldn't turn the TV off, but I couldn't understand why the human losses of a year before still felt so personal. And as I ran back downstairs to see what was happening on the TV then, I ran into Ibrahim. He said hello in his very stilted English, then saw my tears and looked concerned. I smiled and shrugged, pointed at the TV.

He saw the TV, saw what was happening, looked scared, and left the house. I heard him sneak in later, scrub the potties, and leave again.

I didn't understand why he was so nervous. I was dumb, I admit, but I didn't get it until much later.

Considering the bullshit that's still going on - unfounded, illogical, inappropriate anger and juvenile media whore stupidity - is it any wonder someone with brown skin and a name like Ibrahim might have been nervous around someone as emotional as I was about 9/11?

It kills me that he might still have this reaction today.

I'm so glad these fucktards and the cockrocket sensationalists in journalism feel compelled to act like dickbags. I'm even more thrilled that somehow they end up looking as if they speak for me.

If anyone needs a nice heaping helping of STFU, it's this douchedreg and his countless fuckmonkeys. I'm pretty sure if God hates anything, it's festering assholes like these.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dear Martha J. Sisk, Go Fuck Yourself

When I get old, I hope to gods I don't turn into those bitter, "back in MY day" types that take everything that smells like progress and shit on it.

Which is exactly what Ms. Sisk did when she invited us to call her bitter and then proceeded to shit on every tiny bit of progress this country has struggled to make in the military world over the last several decades.

Even better, after she's set up her intent to shit on progress in the first paragraph, she pulls some old-skool milspouse shit and rests on what her dear husband thinks of this.

My husband, Tom, asks if we, as a nation, have become so weak that we now must support military families with the results of mid-summer toy drives and stories about families' "sacrifices" on TV so that the soldiers serving in Afghanistan or Iraq (or any of the other nations) won't have to worry. Worry about what? Have we become a nation of complainers?

Let me start by saying that I give mad props to anyone who has the strength of character required to serve our country. I don't look down on the service of those who came before. It's never been an easy life, but it's always been challenging, and it's always required sacrifice. It doesn't matter what fucking word you picked back then, if you call it "coped the best way they could," it was fucking sacrifice.

But here's the deal. When Martha throws up the "bitch, please" and calls us "whiners" because we talk about the sacrifices we make, she's basically telling today's military service members that they should strap on a sack and pretend like their families don't exist. She's telling today's military spouses that they should delight in all the wonderful opportunities to travel and see the world and meet new people that happen when you're done with your tour in Vietnam.

Doh! Wait a second. The service is different now than it was back then. Life is different, too. Dual incomes are almost required these days, kids are missing parents with stupid crazy operations tempos, the economy is so far down the shitter it's gasping for fume-free air and splashing through a turd mine field, and oh yeah all this is neither new nor all that temporary. This is the new military, how it's been for years and how it will remain until the world economy (and ours particularly) hits rock bottom, the crazy stupid optempo lets up, a woman's desire to have a career of her own isn't so shockingly commonplace (how dare those uppity bitches?!), and dual incomes are no longer so necessary.

Would I want the life I'd have had as a milspouse in the 70s? Fuck no. That shit was hard, too, and in much different ways than I'm prepared to deal with. But to snark on the few perks military families get for all they've been missing for the last 9 years (for army/air force/lazy Marines) or several decades (Navy and those Marines who can't make that long-ass swim to their destination) is just low class. Just because you equate military service with getting to eat exotic food, shopping in German markets, learning a new language, and getting to travel doesn't mean that's been my experience as a milspouse. In fact, my experience has been quite the opposite. Sure, I've had some exotic food, but sustenance isn't exactly my first qualification for wonderful experiences. I've learned a bit of a new language and shopped in foreign markets, but that was mostly scary as shit because, well, I was in Bahrain and we had just invaded Iraq.

Dearest, bitterest Martha. You don't get to acknowledge "numerous unending deployments" and then inform me that, while "sometimes hard, with constant change" it's an "exciting and joyful" life. Fuck you, Ms. Sisk. Fuck you and your paternalistic pat on my head. Fuck you and your self-granted entitlement to ridicule my generation of milspouses when you have no fucking clue.

The military you knew isn't the military today. The life you knew isn't available today. For that, I'm glad. If I were expected to keep a stiff upper lip and not talk about how hard this life is, I think I'd end every day on a massive fucking bender. Maybe your generation was expected to shut up and pretend like everything was full of awesomesauce while you wondered if your husband would come home. We're not that way, and frankly, I think it's healthier to own up to how scary, how hard, and how unfair to the children this life is.

If it helps the ankle biters forget their troubles for a few minutes, then let them have a free fucking toy. Let them have camps where they can get the support and fun they need to be children, for gods' sakes. Let them have healthy outlets instead of bottling up their fears. What the fuck does it matter to you? Or are the children a bunch of whiners and complainers, and are we coddling them by trying to ease their fears?

Fuck you, Martha. Fuck you and your ivory tower full of raw milk and "ja, toll!" and travel opportunities. Fuck you and your assumptions. And most of all, fuck your unhealthy and cruel advice to suck it up.

Me, Gillian Anderson, and a Funny Thing Happened at a Job Interview

When I was a wee twenty-something, I had bottle-red hair just about constantly. Okay, it was red until I spent too much time in the San Diego or Bahrain sun, and then it went blond. But still, I doused more red-making chemical shit on my hair than politicans have fucked around on their spouses. In other words, a lot.

I had one particular hair stylist who was awesome during my San Diego years. She had a freaking masters degree from an Iraqi university, and then she and her family came to the States, where she got her PhD. And she cut hair instead because it made her happy. She was damn good at it, too, except she was convinced I looked too cute for words when my hair was short-ish. I tend to disagree, but I let her have her way with my hair because I liked her and trusted that her tastes were better than mine.

The resulting hairdo earned me a nickname, though. A friend of mine told me that her her husband, after meeting me for the first time, started calling me Scully. And he said so with a lascivious leer. He's a horndog that way, but that's neither here nor there. My point is I had comments often from folks about my resemblance to that hot chick on X-Files. Which rocked except that it's just not true. I cemented this nickname, however, when I attended a Halloween party dressed in a black jacket, white blouse, and slacks, with an FBI ID tag clipped to my lapel.

Cut to me now, in my thirties, I was thinking about dying my hair red again since I have two-tone shit going on now (classy!), and I'm curious how my brand new grays will fare under the duress of chemicals. And I was also busy today culling my bookshelves of the gargantuan pile of UNIX, Perl, Apache, Web Commerce, Web Security, System on a Chip design, Linux device driver design, bioinformatics, etc. books. We only have (had! hurrah!) a metric fuckton of these bitches, and considering how long it's been since my nerd career is a stinking carcass stuck between the toes of the Navy beast, it was time to get rid of them.

But all this thinking - red hair and geeking out - reminded me of a job interview I had during my last semester of college. This interview required an introductory meeting of all applicants (and there were tons of us - this was a huge recruitment push) the night before the actual interviews happened. We showed up at the hotel where all the interviewers were staying, sat at tables, and were met by stern-faced government officials who informed us they were there all sekrit-like and that nobody knew the *whisper*CIA*whisper* was at that hotel. It was quite delicious, and I was entertained and perplexed since they weren't in town to hire operatives or sekrit spy-types. Just geeks like me.

The next day, I showed up for my interview, and there were about ten other applicants in various states of nervous tension, wringing hands, fidgeting, acting like they had reason to be particularly nervous. The instructions we'd received the night before were that we should check in at the front desk with our names, but not to mention whom we were interviewing with. Hilarity, yes?

So when I walked past all the hand-wringing, super nervous geeks and got to the front desk, I wasn't smiling anymore. I was starting to wonder if I needed to be nervous, so I put on my serious-stern face and told the guy at the desk I needed to check in for my interview.

He didn't ask my name. Instead, he gave me a once-over and then looked back at the folks behind the counter, two other hotel employees who were clearly very curious about all the drama and sooper sekrit 007 shit.

"I knew it!" he stage-whispered to his peeps. Then he turned back to me and said, "These are interviews for the FBI, right, Scully?"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Good News and Anonymity

I've just taken a nice, solid step in my career. I'd love to squee from the tops of trees and towers, but I'm afraid I'll jinx it.

This is a lesson I've learned from the Navy. Never, ever tie yourself to a set of expectations, especially when the outcome you foresee could change (no matter how unlikely change might be). It's a bummer because it means my emotional highs don't quite get up there when I should be excited about something. It's a relief because then I'm not sucking down whiskey sours, crying, and sucking on my hair when shit rains down.

Also, on this here blog, I try to maintain some semblance of anonymity. Okay, not much. But there's enough division between this anonymous blog and my real name to keep the YodaMan safe from my foul fucking mouth. Especially when I wangst about the stupid fuckers who inevitably pop up in every chain of command.

One of these days, I'll holler and squee and dance a jig with some minor details of my babysteps in this career. For now, know that I'm as happy as I can be as I wait for the shit to rain down.

And in the next couple of days, I hope to unleash on this article. Now that I've had a chance to calm down, I might be able to maintain my gasketry.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On Monterey's exchanges and the clusterfuck that is AAFES...

Monterey doesn't have the best on-base opportunities. There are three "bases" in this tiny area - the Presidio, NPS, and the no-longer-a-base-but-still-populated-by-militariness Ft Ord. Presidio is where you go for pediatrics and the half-stocked pharmacy that probably won't carry what you need but will tell you with a very friendly smile when they can't fill your $180-copay prescription. NPS has a very small Navy-emphasized exchange with a huge alcohol section (shocker), some food and beverage aisles, a tiny electronics department, a huge clothing section filled with a whole lotta nothing, and some housewares and books and gifty shit. Ord is where you go for the commissary and the exchange, such as they are.

The commissary, unfortunately, is one of the worst managed I've ever seen. It's so common to hit the store four times in two weeks and never once see product on the bread shelves. They run out of stuff all the time. Creamer? Gone. Bread? Looks like looters hit it. Produce options? Pretty fucking lackluster, and the bananas are usually either bright green or gone. Last year, I kept waiting for them to carry some canned pumpkin for my (omnomnompumpkin) fall baking, but they only kept room on the shelves for about six of the double-sized cans, and I ended up lucking out one time and scoring two cans...two weeks after Thanksgiving. But management doesn't just fall down on what they carry and how much. Yesterday, I was in the self-check aisle for about fifteen minutes between waiting for a free checkstand and waiting for the poor overworked employee to run around unfreezing the piece of shit checkstands that constantly require employee intervention. In that fifteen minutes, I watched the poor woman call out three times on the PA system that she needed a grocer in self-check for a price check. Nobody came, including the manager.

The issues with the commissary are so severe that I'd stop shopping there altogether if it weren't for the outrageous 9.8something% tax and outrageous California pricing on grocery items.

Recently, I blogged about the TV that melted on us, but I didn't tell you what I learned about the AAFES system. I don't know if the NEX system is the same way - I imagine it must be, but I've never run into massive trouble with NEX like I have AAFES, so I haven't had the chance to learn their processes. Let me tell you what I learned...

When our TV melted, we headed to Ord's exchange. We'd considered NEX, but the options at Ord are much better in the technology department. It's a little bit bigger, you see, but bigger enough to have more offerings. First we went to Best Buy to check on what was out there in the real world, though. What we found at the PX was pretty awesome - exactly the TV we wanted, only bigger. The price was a tiny bit higher than Best Buy's, but the tax free part made it a better purchase through AAFES. We asked about a smaller version and were told they were sold out, but that the big-ass TV was identical to the smaller one we wanted, size aside. So we reluctantly agreed to get the big-ass TV.

We bought it. We even relented on our anti-credit card stance and got a fucking exchange credit card to save another 10% (it's a big fucking TV, y'all). We got out to the loading dock to pick up the TV and were met by a man who seemed like the electronics manager. He told us the entire palette of big-ass TVs had cracked screens. The only alternative was the huge-ass five-inches-bigger-than-any-human-really-needs version. We asked how long it would take for the next shipment of big-ass TVs and were given what in Bahrain would have been "inshallah." Which basically means maybe next month, maybe never.... We asked if the NEX might have a TV in a size we wanted, and we were told that they only carry the smaller TV, not one we're looking for. This, it turns out, was untrue.

It was getting time to pick up the sprogs from their after care, so we impulsively decided to upgrade to the huge-ass TV. YodaMan went inside to take care of the switcheroo, and we loaded the OMG HOW FUCKING BIG DOES A TV NEED TO BE box into our soccer-mom-mobile. Got home, cracked the box open, and saw evidence that the TV had been returned. And there were vital components missing. We couldn't even turn it on.

YodaMan called the exchange since they were supposed to be open another fifteen minutes. The phone went straight to an answering machine that hung up on him. Ord is far enough away, and Hwy 1 congests enough at that time of day to make the drive a solid twenty or thirty minutes. Normally it would only be ten or fifteen, but we were stuck.

Next day, we took the TV back to the PX and explained what had happened. We asked how long it would take to get another TV since they had none in stock. Here's where the shocking answer comes in.

They don't have the first clue.

Since AAFES (and probably NEX) gets its better prices by lucking out on product, they have no idea what they're going to get. They don't actually order their stock - it's sent to them by headquarters. So when they get an entire palette of broken electronics, there's nothing they can do but contact other exchanges and try to get a new one shipped there. Here's how they do that:
  1. Ord e-mails kinda-nearby exchanges with their request.
  2. Other exchange writes the details on a fucking sticky pad.
  3. Other exchange toodles into their stock room.
  4. Other exchange looks through piles for something matching what's on the sticky pad.
  5. Other exchange toodles back to the computer.
  6. Other exchange e-mails Ord with a response: yes we have it or no we don't.
Then begins a whole new process to obtain the product.

Why all the toodling? Why the combing through the stock room? Why e-mail anyone at all?

Because there's no stock database. Not in the store, not in a state, not in a district, not in the country. We're in the fucking 21st century, and the highest technology used to account for stock is fucking e-mail. Does this strike you as hilariously appropriate but nonetheless shocking?

When an area is stuck with fuckstick management decisions, uninformed customer service, a stunning lack of technology, and only a teensy system to feed a rather significant military population, what does that lead to?

Each shopping trip is like walking into the apocalypse. It's scary, it's lonely, and if you make it out alive, you'll probably have bite marks.